Relationship Between Ancient Greece And Rome

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In the development of this work we will talk about an interesting, intriguing and very important topic for history in general. A moment of such relevance that would mark a before and after in the ancient world. We refer to the meeting of two greats of the ancient world of Rome, with its religious diversity and powerful army, and Greece, with its amazing architecture and love for the arts. We know that both Rome and Greece were the two predominant cultures in the ancient Mediterranean. We must not belittle the Carthaginians or the Etruscans who also played an important role. Although we know that they did not last as long as the first two.

The Greek civilization began to emerge around the year 1200 a. C. in the lands surrounding the Aegean Sea, very close to the Mediterranean Sea, in southern contemporary Europe in the area known today as the Balkans. Of particular importance was the movement of the Greeks from the continental territory to the Aegean islands and the coast of Asia Minor, since here important contacts were established with the Near East world. With this, the inhabitants of these areas shared cultural traits by establishing the common demographic base, thus fostering the development of a Greek language and writing.

On the other hand we have the Roman civilization, which emerges as a very small community whose main activity was agriculture. Rome was founded on the Italian peninsula in the current city of Rome in 753 BC on a place of commercial passage called ‘Tiber Pass’. The economy of Rome was based on slave exploitation and the wealth of its provinces.

The Greek culture is based on competition, the Greek although it worried about that quality of life that they had to have, they worried about the individual-society relationship, how each one behaved, where the limits were, and the excessive concern for oneself regardless of the other. Critics when they talk about Greek art, they talk about balance, containment, harmony, measure, rest, dignity, and some adjectives such as: serene, orderly, disciplined, but in turn insist that it is not a formal art, rather it is a Deep, energetic art that moves.

Critics argue that the Greeks came to something that resembles artistic perfection, true balance. On the other hand, it is difficult to assess the role that Rome, the new political lady, could play in Greek art from this time until the theoretical end of the Hellenistic period, the year 30 a. C. On the one hand, of course, the low cultural level from which the Romans started, which led them to consider every Greek poem or artistic object as good and admirable; on the other hand, on the other hand, the economic control gave the winners some tricks, such as customers, patrons or collectors, who will undoubtedly try to exploit in some way.

Greece in The Roman Empire

Greece was definitely incorporated into the Roman Empire in 145 B.C. after being defeated in Corinth. But, despite the annexation, the conflicts between Rome and Greece remained beyond the legendary battle. Until the arrival of Augustus, Rome had to face the hope of freedom that men like Mitrídates or Antonio offered to the Greek community, to which we must add an economically devastated Greece, not only because of mitridic conflicts, but also and mainly by the Civil Wars, especially due to the fact that many of the battles (such as those of Farsalia, Philippi or Accio) had developed in Greek territory. To the material destruction of the cities or the casualties of the dead in battle, we must add the number of survivors who were sent to Italy as slaves.

The question of the threat posed to the Roman culture by the Greek influence and the overwhelming culture that was associated with them, only raised two possible solutions: either to keep both cultures separately, or to integrate the Greek elements that were beneficial for Rome within their culture, affirming within this symbiosis the moral superiority of the Roman elements. Thus, little by little, the Greek culture became part of the Roman. The Roman imperial era could no longer be understood without appealing to its Greek influence. We must bear in mind that since Hellenistic times, power, the dominant element, had been associated with the Greek. Thus, Rome made Greek and paidea culture its best legitimizing element to rise as the new owner of the Mediterranean.

Culture and civilization were associated with Greece, and therefore, for Rome to be able to erase the barbaric and dominating component that was associated with it by its own history, it had to turn part of itself into Greek, not simply associating itself with Greek culture, but becoming the center of it, a diffuser and protector. It was common at the time to think that contemporary Greeks were but a minor version of the Greeks of yesteryear, whose decline was in the power of stopping the Romans. It was the duty of the Romans to elevate Greek culture back to the same levels of greatness that they had enjoyed in the past, but no longer in Greece, but in Rome. The culmination of this process was carried out during the second century A.D. A process that was redefinition of the Roman being, in which, although transformed by the Greek elements, it was not damaged, but on the contrary, strengthened. Now, the ideal Roman combined traditional Roman virtues with Greek culture and refinement.

When beginning the study of the history of Rome, one must first examine its relations with the history of the Greek people; for not everything that Rome and its civilization represents in the destinies of humanity is due to itself, its genius and character; but that the influence of the Hellenic culture enters as a modifying element of that character. Greek and Roman history follow one another in time, like two great periods in the life of humanity, not isolated and independent, but in immediate relationship, and derived from each other. The history of Rome is the continuation and consequence in some way of that of Greece. As the most advanced people, Greece exerted a great influence on Rome, transmitting its brilliant civilization. Therefore, we must first determine the terms and conditions under which this transmission is verified, and the scope and significance that corresponds to it in history and in the destinies of Rome itself.

Decadence of Greece. We know of the decay and decay that the Greek people had arrived on the eve of the Roman conquest. The spirit of division that had contributed so much in previous times to the development of the active forces of that privileged people, was later the cause that most influenced their decline and ruin. Since the Peloponnesian war the decomposition and death of Greece were imminent. Alejandro’s genius managed for a moment to communicate new, life; but after his brief reign, the struggles between his successors, and corruption and vices, violence and crimes, weakness and reduction, lead those monarchies to the last extreme.

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Greece’s need to be welcomed. Greece had fulfilled its destiny by developing all the elements of human culture; but this magnificent work could not and should not be limited to the narrow limits of that nationality; but it should be communicated to all peoples, both the East and the West. Alexander with his conquests had made the Eastern peoples of the Greek civilization participate; but in the West there was a whole world mired in the darkness of barbarism, to which the sun of that civilization should also illuminate. And since Greece, due to its conditions, could not fill this part of its mission, and a genius like Alejandro’s could not be expected to perform it, it was necessary that another people hurried to collect that inheritance, in charge of transmitting to the most remote regions ; that town could not be other than Rome.

Elements of civilization that Rome receives from Greece. Even before the political events brought the Roman legions to Greece, the conquest of the Hellenic colonies of Italy had aroused in the Romans a fondness for Greek culture and civilization. However, the great influence of one in another civilization, begins at the time of the conquest of Greece and extends until the end of the Republic and even during the empire; since then the Greeks brought their arts, sciences, religion and philosophy to Rome, educating the most eminent men in Athens; so that in a short time the Hellenic culture and civilization seemed to have been transplanted to the banks of the Tiber.

Greek and Roman civilization, its nature. The Greek civilization as varied and as bright as the nature of the country it had become, was profoundly modified as it passed to Rome, in harmony with the special genius of this nation, assimilating and developing all those elements that most directly relate to the end and character of the Romans, while the cultivation of some sciences and arts remained in the hands of the Greeks themselves, the advances made by the Romans being very scarce.

Political and religious institutions that Rome receives from Greece. Regarding the governance of the peoples, the East communicated to Greece only the idea of despotism; while Rome inherits from the latter the complete development of all political forms, as well as the ideas of equality and freedom of all citizens. On the other hand, Rome receives from Greece the true idea of the State, although circumscribed to the city. As for religion, the rude naturalism of the East changes its character in Greece, becoming a purely human religion, influencing Roman beliefs in this respect.

Influence of Greek literature and art in Rome. When the Romans extended their domination through the Greek colonies, and even later, when they conquered Greece, Roman literature had only had few manifestations. Constantly engaged in fighting the peoples of Italy, and concerned with the long struggle of patricians and commoners, very little was devoted to the cultivation of letters, which only thrive in peaceful and serene times. So the appearance of the brilliant Greek literature, caused in Rome a wonderful surprise, devoting itself with true greed to its cultivation the main characters; and even when he did not lack adversaries, he ended up triumphing, marking new paths to Latin literature.

And it could not happen otherwise; as just as the other institutions were already formed in Rome according to their character, and the Greek influence was limited to printing some modifications, the field of literature was still virgin, letting itself be influenced more strongly by Greek science and literature, that like an overflowing river flooded the Roman Republic. The same phenomenon can be observed with respect to the arts, which were just born in Rome, were invaded by the great advances that Greece had made in architecture, painting and sculpture, since then the great Greek artists have become masters of the Romans, and Greece, and mainly Athens, in museum and art school, as it was both the center and university where all the Roman magnates educated their intelligence.

Character of the Roman civilization. Rome appears in history after the East and Greece: it is called to collect the elements of those civilizations, to spread them through the West, after having melted them into the mold of their own genius and character, so different from those of those peoples. The first acts of the people almost always decide their vocation and their character; and Rome, which owes its origin to the calculation, and that spends the first centuries of its existence in constant struggle with the peoples of Italy, running and calculating at the same time the means of keeping them in their obedience, acquired with these facts an eminent conquering character and political, positive and calculating, who does not abandon him during his long history. Rome uses eight centuries to conquer the world, and another five to keep it conquered. Such was the life of the great city.


In conclusion and summarizing what was studied in this work, we were able to know how important Greece and Rome were to each other. The history of Rome is linked to that of Greece, representing two successive great periods of the life of humanity. We were able to investigate and understand the relationships that unite them and the influence that the one has exerted on the other, both culturally, politically and religiously. Since the Peloponnesian War, Greece was in constant and permanent decline: its decomposition and its ruin being imminent since Alexander’s death; We could observe the same phenomenon regarding culture and civilization, from the time of Pericles to the successors of the Macedonian hero. The treasures of the Greek civilization were to spread throughout the world, Alexander had communicated them to the peoples of the East; and it was necessary for a new people to transmit them to the western regions plunged until then in barbarism.

Among the western towns of Italy, because of its proximity to Greece and the easy communications that always united the two peninsulas, it was called first to collect Greek civilization. On the other hand, among the peoples of the West the only important one in the time of the decline of Greece, was Rome, which for this reason should also be the continuator of that civilization to avoid its disappearance and subsequent forgetting. Since the conquest of southern Italy, Rome began to know Greek civilization; but after the submission of this, the arts and sciences, religion and philosophy penetrated into Rome, and all the elements of culture, how much development they had achieved among the Greeks.

The Greek civilization, as bright as the nature of the country in which it is developed, was modified, as it passed to Rome in harmony with the special genius of this nation, as opposed to that of Greece, as, the natural conditions of both countries are different. The institutions common to all ancient peoples are profoundly modified, becoming more and more human, until they reach Rome; the isolation is broken, and foreigners are admitted to Greek society; hospitality is extended and regularized, and slavery becomes an accidental and transitory state. Rome received from Greece fully developed all political ideas and forms, as well as its purely human polytheism, infinitely superior to rude Eastern naturalism.

Occupied in their wars the Romans and little dedicated to the cultivation of letters, received with true enthusiasm Greek literature, which for this reason exerted a powerful influence on the progress of the Latin. The same happened with respect to the fine arts, becoming the great Greek master artists of the Romans, and Athens the museum and center of their studies. In accordance with its constant occupation for a few centuries, Rome develops a conquering and political character, which was only slightly modified by the influence of Greek civilization, appropriating only the ideas that most suited its dominating and positive spirit.

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